Feeling the Presence of God

I awoke that quiet Thursday morning. The date was April 29th, and I was quite excited and was looking forward to the events that would unfold that day. Today marked the first day of my Seventh Grade Recollection, one I felt I was in dire need of.

I would be completely disconnected from the outside world. No phone, no computer, no TV. No heavily pressured, high-speed routines. After facing a daunting and challengingly tough year since 6th Grade Graduation and my days as a 7th Grader, I welcomed the chance to let go of my troubles and work and just relax, even if it would be short-lived.

As usual, the Recollection was fun, if not a tad boring. We sang songs of praise and dance like natural disco masters, and as usual, my class, 7F was causing a riot (read: ngerusuh haha). Session were like previous recollections: talking about 'Me and Myself', 'Me and My Friends', 'Me and My Family' and God's role in it all.

For the first time, I actually was listening intently. Maybe because this time, I was really confused and troubled, and though it sounded like a repeat of things I have heard before, a little self-discovery and recollecting needed to take place. I had a pretty tough year, and though I tried to convince myself that I was a survivor, and that I should let the past go, the feeling of pain and betrayal and loss of confidence would creep up to me late at night.

Than the first night, was something truly magical, truly miraculous. As usual, we had a 'Sesi Pertobatan'. We would bow our heads in deep prayer, and be reminded of our sins and wrongs. We were reminded of our parents, and as usual, people started crying.

What surprised me was that I was crying. Not just a tear or two like I usually did, but the tears just continued to flow endlessly. I felt really guilty, and remembered all the fights I had with my parents. True, usually it was triggered by something they had done, but if I had learned anything in my life it was that hate was a gift that should never be returned.

The voice of the guest speakers from Sekolah Penginjilan Remaja, told us to picture Jesus in front of us and I did. And in my mind's eye I pictured him perfectly, standing about a meter away from me. I cried even harder. For a few depressing moments in my life when I was facing trouble and pain, it felt as if Jesus and God were just so far away.

And then it seemed like he was standing so close to me, I could touch him. Being told to picture my parents didn't help either. At that second I wanted to stand up, charge out the door, run to my house, wake my parents and hugged them so tight while saying, "I'm sorry."

After my emotions settled somewhat, we were all asked to stand up and to do something they called, "Pencurahan Roh Kudus". They explained the prayer beforehand, and its probable effects. We would be asked to completely give in to God's power and surrender to the Holy Spirit and truly feel their presence. Some might feel a deep sense of longing, and cry and cry and cry. Some might spontaneously open their mouths and speak in "Bahasa Roh", some might faint and fall into a deep sleep, some might even see visions.

When the teachers and people from SPR approached the other students one by one and prayed for them, I was standing with my eyes closed tight and realized I was shivering, shaking from head to toe. A whirlwind of emotions toiled in my heart. On one hand, I was excited to finally feel God's presence and feel free, forgiven and at peace. On the other, every fiber of my body felt scared— What if I didn't feel anything? What if didn't deserve to feel anything? What if my sins and burdens kept the Holy Spirit for coming?

A strong, endless chanting began, and I heard people speak at the top of their lungs in Bahasa Roh. It sounded like nonsense at first, but when you listened, even that mumble jumble of words touched you deeply with its deep, hidden meaning.

I heard the sound of someone falling and I jumped, accidentally opening my eyes. My vision was blurred with tears, and in a dream-like state, I saw other students lying down on the floor, some in a peaceful, calm sleep, others crying and screaming in anguish and pain, fitfully as if they had entered a never-ending nightmare.

I shut my eyes again. Seeing that did nothing but arouse my nerves even further. I wrapped my black jacket around me even tighter, feeling as cold as ice, and trying to stop myself from shivering. I put my hands together in prayer, clenching them so tight that my knuckles turned white.

A pair of people approached me. Through my shut eyes, I couldn't tell who. One, a woman I guessed from her voice, touched my by the shoulders and placed a hand on my forehead. I stiffened instantaneously. I closed my eyes even tighter, I felt my shoulders stiffened, and my hands shake in fear.

"Serahkan saja pada Tuhan," the woman whispered and prayed to me in my ear— Just give in to God.

I felt my muscles loosened. My hands fell down to my sides, my shoulders relaxed and I swayed back and forth ever so slightly. Still clenched in fists, I willed my hands and the rest of my body to let go.

She repeated the words— "Serahkan saja pada Tuhan."

I opened my clenched fists into welcome arms, I lost control over my legs and feel backwards as a strong gust of wind blew into my face and sent me sprawling backwards. Control on my body and mind gone, I fell into the arms of another woman —shorter, smaller, seemingly having a hard time carrying me— and she set me down gently on the floor.

I entered a half-conscious state. I felt my body turn stiff and unmoving, but I could still feel the cold floor of the Aula, hear others speak in the Sprit's tongue and other cries and screams. All of a sudden, as if some hidden force drove me to, I reached down deep into the recesses and dark corners of my mind and pulled up every file in the "Bad Deed" cabinet.

They played in front of my closed eye-lids in never-ending flashbacks. Every lie, every hit, every snip of angered sarcasm, back-talk, immoral words, every single sin and act of disobedience and misconduct I remembered, started from the smallest and increasing in intensity.

I cried, probably cried more than I ever had in my whole life. I think I even screamed in pain and regret once in between the rising din that began to converge and echo against the Aula walls. I felt guilty and incredibly sorry, and was crying and begging for forgiveness.

Suddenly, something happened. When you close your eyes you'll find that everything has become dark. But in your vision, you can still see the last remnants of light and images your retinas have registered dance around in purplish spots.

To me, those spots seemed to move and transform into some kind of human form. I couldn't see the details, just the blurred outline. And that person seemed to walk forwards, and I just felt that he was coming towards me.

I felt an intense wave of heat wash over me, spreading from my chest to my face and legs and into every inch of my body, as if a flame had blossomed in my heart and flowed with my blood pumping in my veins.

My crying slowly began to cease. The tears gradually faded, and with the warmth calm seeped into my heart. I closed my eyes even tighter, but more gently as my muscled loosened and I fell into a deep sleep.

My vision turned into white and suddenly, I was surrounded by a nice cool shade of light blue, dotted with clumps of white cloud. The scene around me seemed to move, and I realized that I was flying. Like a bird, without wings, flying though the open air, feeling so carelessly, so free!

It reminded me a lot of how I felt during my younger childhood years. My life probably wasn't the best or most productive one, but I didn't care. I played and laughed and enjoyed the moments, just as a kid should.

But then I flew higher, rising up above the clouds and for a second I felt excited, and completely content. Kind of like growing up. I experienced new things I never would have as a child, and I enjoyed the fleeting moment.

Unfortunately, that feeling was short-lived. As if my wings had been clipped, I lost control of my flight path and swerved downwards. I didn't understand what was happening. A sudden feeling of doubt, fear and loneliness seemed to jump at me and weighed me down. The dreaded feeling only intensified and then I just dropped like a rock.

Maybe outside my dream/vision, in the real world I was crying again and maybe even screaming in pain. Inside it, I certainly was. Tears flowed upwards as I fell, feeling the breath leave my lungs, hands flailing for something to hold on to.

Then I heard the cry of an eagle nearby, and suddenly I stopped falling. Someone was holding me up, and I just knew it was God. I turned to see his face, but a sudden fog rolled in and obscured my vision.

I still have mixed feelings of what that meant. At first I thought that I still wasn't good enough to really see him and feel his presence, or it just wasn't the right time. But a more wonderful thought crossed my mind. It was just a symbolic gesture. Most of my life I would have trouble seeing Jesus' hand in life, but the dream only convinced that even though he was out of sight he is and always be there.

I felt relieved. But more touchingly, in the dream he spoke to me. In English, his voice sounded soft, warm and gentle. Every sound of his voice and every word that escaped his lips made me feel happy, calm, like the perfect pick-me-up whenever I'm down. It sounded strange in a beautiful way. I couldn't tell if it was the voice of a child, young person, adult or old, and whether it was a man's or a woman's.

But the words that reached my ears, touched my heart and will forever change me.

"Karin, do not be afraid. I will always be there to catch you when you fall. You're a special girl, you know? You have always lived in my name, trying your best to be a good girl and not commit sins, though at times you feel as if I am not there, and being good might not be worth it in the end. You know you have the will, the determination, and big heart to be the best person you can be. You've always craved for something more, for fulfillment in your life. Yet, you bring yourselves down your insecurities, doubt and fear. But do not be afraid. Forget all the burdens that hinder you and just fly. Fly like you've never flown before. Reach higher heights than you ever thought possible."

I was crying deeply, being so touched. I felt the grip on me loosen, and I almost reached out to grab God out of fear. I was still scared. I wasn't ready. I was afraid that if did start flying, I'd end up flying alone. I didn't want to let go to the feeling of feeling God's presence. I just didn't want to let go.

"You are not alone. I am always with you. And do not worry, of your past. Your sins that hold you back and burden as of now are gone. Know that I have forgiven you. Know that now you are free."

Hearing those words made me cry again. But this time realized they weren't tears of guilt or fear— they were tears of joy. I felt my body turn as light as a feather, and I just let go. I felt my body rise higher and I started flying again, recapturing that sense of confidence, calm and freedom.

Beside me an eagle shot past me, and for a fraction of a second it turned its head towards me and I just knew it smiled at me. I smiled back, and it disappeared through the clouds.

It was then I awoke. I felt myself regain consciousness and slowly and steadily, I opened my eyes. The lights were turned back on, and someone helped me up. I registered for a second, the last few people lying down on the floor, still fitfully crying in their rest. I felt a tang of sympathy for a second. But then I took it back. I knew that they were felling His presence, and afterwards, they would feel relieved and free.

I stood up woozily, my body and mind still feeling light. I doubted myself for a second. Would I really be able to go through with that change? Would I be able to soar freely again? I felt my face, which was wet with dry tears and rubbed my puffy eyes with the sleeves of my jacket.

Suddenly, I remembered the words I heard in my dream and cracked a smile. The widest grin I ever made in my life. A steeled determination entered my face, and as I wiped my tears, I also wiped away my doubt. I now believed that God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit were with me and that anything was possible.

I think as I dance with full energy to the disco moves that accompanied the song "Kasih Yesus Indah", I really have changed down to my very core. Reader, if you are reading this, I thank you. I hope that by listening to my faithful account of me feeling His love, you will be inspired to change so that you may become close to him and feel the power of his live as well.

"Love is like the very air around us. Though you may not see it, it's always there. But God's love is like the wind. You may not see it, but you can always feel it."

Happy Weekend, Guys!


Sir Writes-A-Lot


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